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Sir John Mills’s Watch To Go Under The Hammer

A
fine Le Coultre wristwatch that belonged to the celebrated actor
Sir John Mills until his death earlier this year, is to sell
at Bonhams’ sale of Fine Watches on 29 November at 101 New Bond
Street, London.

Sir John Mills (1908 – 2005), one of Britain’s most popular
and beloved actors, appeared in over 100 films during a career
that spanned eight decades. His consistently excellent and distinguished
performances earned him the reputation as one of the leading
lights of his generation, and he was voted 9th in the 2001 Orange
Film Survey of the greatest British actors. Appearing most recently
in Stephen Fry’s ‘Bright Young Things’ (2003) and Kenneth Branagh’s
‘Hamlet’ (1996), Sir John is perhaps best remembered for his
roles in such classic films as ‘In Which We Serve’ (1942), ‘Scott
of the Antarctic’ (1948), ‘Great Expectations’ (1946), ‘Ice-Cold
in Alex’ (1958), ‘Oh! What a Lovely War’ (1969), The Thirty-Nine
Steps’ (1978) and ‘Ghandi’ (1982). A photograph of the actor
wearing the watch on the set of the 1956 epic ‘War and Peace,’
in which he played Platon Karatsev, is included in the lot.

The historically important steel and 9ct gold reversible manual
wind watch dates from 1937 and is engraved on the back ‘JOHN
MARY 16.1.41’ – the date of his marriage to playwright Mary
Hayley Bell. Because he was serving in the army at the time,
a church service was not possible. Aged 92, he and Mary renewed
their wedding vows at St Mary’s Church in Denham, Buckinghamshire.

The extremely elegant timepiece will sell with a small number
of photographs of the actor wearing the watch for an estimate
of £3,000 – 4,000.

The sale contains nearly 250 wrist and pocket watches by some
of the finest makers of all time – such as Rolex, Patek Philippe,
Cartier, A. Lange & Söhne, Omega, Jaeger le Coultre
– with estimates ranging from £300 – 70,000.

The sale’s top lot is a fine and rare 18ct white gold Patek
Philippe wristwatch Ref. 5004 with perpetual calendar, moon
phase and split-second chronograph, sold originally in April
2001. The movement of this hugely complex watch consists of
a total of 407 hand-finished parts and is expected to fetch
between £50,000 – 70,000.

A very fine Rolex, estimated at £25,000 – 30,000 and
sold originally in 1952, is another of the sale’s highlights.
It is a stainless steel automatic triple calendar wristwatch
with phases of the moon, and remains in original and outstanding
condition. During their history, Rolex have manufactured only
two versions of moonphase calendar wristwatches, and this version
is today one of the most desirable examples of Rolex watches
available.

The sale also includes an open-faced calendar pocket watch
that was originally sold on 29 January 1819 to William Legge,
the 4th Earl of Dartmouth (1784 – 1853) during his stay at the
Hotel Mirabeau, Rue de la Paix, Paris. This fine Breguet instrument,
estimated at £12,000 – 18,000, will be sold together with
a hand-written note relating to the watch.

Some highly unusual watches decorated with enamel and pearl
are also to go under the hammer. A rare mid 19th century gold
and enamel ladies bracelet with concealed enamel fob watch by
Henry Capt features a reproduction in enamel of ‘Rapheals Madonna
della Sedia,’ and is expected to fetch up to £3,000. Similarly,
a highly decorative early 19th century Swiss 18ct gold enamel
and pearl decorated pocket watch depicting an Arcadian scene
is estimated at £4,000 – 6,000. A delightful selection
of more modern ladies’ watches, mostly in bracelet form and
some embellished with pearls and diamonds, are included at prices
ranging from £700 – 3,000. A rare 1930s ‘lighter’ watch
by Dunhill makes a lovely novelty item at £1,800 – 2,200.

A fine and extremely rare pocket watch with calendar, world
time indicator and times of sunrise and sunset by Augustin Moré
of Paris is a charming and intricate example of late 18th century
Parisian craftsmanship. The outer dial is marked for 24 world
cities with Paris at the top, and with fine painted miniatures
representing the signs of the zodiac, and a calendar with days
of the week in French. This exquisite example of early Horological
engineering is estimated at £8,000 – 12,000.

For the more technical minded, a fine and rare automatic platinum
wristwatch by A. Lange & Söhne with perpetual calendar,
moon phases and special fitted winding box is sure to invite
enthusiasm. Production of watches of this reference – Ref: 310.025
– started in 2001. It will be sold complete with certificate
at an estimate of £25,000 – 35,000. Another fine modern
example is an 18ct white gold wristwatch by Richard Mille, originally
sold in 2004. Mille’s timepieces break new ground in terms of
their design, often taking inspiration from Formula One race
cars, material and production processes. This stylish example
is estimated at £10,000 – 15,000

For more details visit the Bonhams
web site.